Sadly, even during the pandemic, our officials have been slow to really do anything about it, including improving our broadband access in a meaningful way. Most recently the Washington State Department of Commerce is pretending to do so by offering a broadband speed test on their site. However, the site uses a Speedtest.net testing tool, whose traffic is pritiorized by big telecoms and always produces false positives in favor of the big telecoms. It also is not a proper network load test, meaning that the results are virtually worthless. On top of that, the state bases its access speed on the totally inadequate FCC standard of only 25 Mbits down and 3 up to appease DSL, wireless and satellite providers who provide overpriced, inadequate service. Of course, excellent, free, network load testing tools are available like Flent for Linux. These tools will show you that the 100 Mbits down 10 Mbits up speed Comcast claims you’re getting for over $100 a month, will perform at best at one-sixth of that speed, and even worse during peak times since Comcast uses shared network hubs, making it inadequate for most of the work most of us need to do during the pandemic. So please ask the Department of Commerce to design a real network load test. It’s not hard and the tools are available for free. How do we know, we’ve been using Flent to test connections around town. Comcast uses a “speed burst” (now called “Blast”) technology so your speeds always look good at first and then they throttle way down. It’s another reason the minute-long test the DOC is using is totally inappropriate. You need to do at least 10 minutes of load testing to see how a connection really performs. Tell the Department of Commerce you’re on to their pro-big telecom scam, and you don’t appreciate it. We need real solutions, like public fiber to the premises. I have spoken to the state about this, but they are always careful not to offend the big telecoms, even during a pandemic. Below is the link to their site. Why not give them a ring and ask them to design a real load test instead.
Update: 8/6/2020. Public works director Johnston wrote to a few of us this morning admitting to the bias in the DOC test and its inaccuracy, but then he told us that he is going to put it up on the COB website anyway. In fact, he encouraged us to support him in using this awful test and help spread the word. I offered to develop a proper load test instead. What is the point in knowingly getting a lot of bad data? How can anyone use that to really plan?